Avenging Angel? John Brown, the Harpers Ferry Raid and the "Irrepressible" Conflict
A document-based teaching unit
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To his supporters, John Brown was a Christian martyr who sacrificed his life for the emancipation of African Americas; his opponents viewed him as a deranged fanatic willing to inaugurate a bloody servile insurrection to advance his blood-thirsty design. These lessons explore Brown from both perspectives. Two readers’ theater scripts drawn from primary sources (the words of John Brown, members of the “Secret Six” who financed Brown’s abolitionist crusade, remarks by prominent figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Frederick Douglass) relate the Harpers Ferry raid and its aftermath. Other sources include excerpts from Robert E. Lee’s report on Brown’s capture, the Mason Senate Committee report investigating the raid, an exchange of letters between Lydia Maria Child and the Governor Wise of Virginia, photographs, engravings, and art work depicting Brown and the raid.
Lesson 1: John Brown: The Visionary
Lesson 2: John Brown: The Fanatic
Lesson 3: John Brown: The Image
Lesson 4: The Historical John Brown
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